OTTAWA, September 14, 2022—The Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) announced today the publication of Patterns and trends among physicians-in-training named in civil legal cases. The results of this study will help direct the Association’s future patient safety learning efforts for residents (physicians-in-training) to improve safe medical care.
Published in CMAJ Open, it is the first peer-reviewed research of its kind to explore the frequency and types of legal cases among physicians-in-training named in civil legal cases in Canada. The results of this research will help inform the CMPA’s efforts to promote patient safety through enhanced education, targeted at reducing the frequency and severity of medical liability issues for physicians-in-training.
Focusing on learning and promoting patient safety
Sharing these data may help physicians-in-training to anticipate and mitigate patient safety risks and to shape their expectations for medico-legal events during their years-long training. More specifically, awareness of medico-legal patterns across specialty areas can help stakeholders in postgraduate medical education to focus on areas of priority to address and mitigate medico-legal risk.
“Ultimately, our focus on robust data collection and analytics results in research that enables the development of physician training that promotes patient safety,” said Dr. Armand Aalamian, Executive Director, Learning at the CMPA. “These learning offerings are another terrific example of how we serve our members’ patient safety needs.”
Shedding light on the emotional toll of civil legal cases on physicians-in-training
Civil legal cases take an emotional toll on any physician, but there are unique stressors and important considerations when a physician-in-training is named in a case. We know physicians-in-training sometimes worry about their medico-legal liability, but until now, information on how often and why they are sued hasn’t been available.
Significantly, the study reports that civil legal cases can last several years. Therefore, given 2- to 3-year residencies in Canadian family medicine programs and 4- to 5-year training programs in other specialties, civil legal cases can persist through the entire duration of residency, and even beyond.
“The stress caused by a poor patient outcome, compounded with a medico-legal matter, can be agonizing for physicians-in-training,” said Dr. Lisa Calder, Chief Executive Officer of the CMPA and the study’s senior author. “It’s a difficult thing to go through – and this research helps shed light on an often undiscussed and misunderstood element of life as a resident.”
CMPA Research: Supporting physicians and enhancing patient safety
The CMPA is Canada’s largest physician organization, with 105,000+ members, of whom 12% are physicians-in-training. The Association’s team of 45+ physician advisors answer more than 24,000 advice calls a year, respond to online inquiries, and provide empathetic support and expert guidance to help members handle specific medico-legal and patient safety challenges.
“Our national repository of physician medico-legal data is the largest of its kind in the world,” said Chantz Strong, Executive Director, Research and Analytics and Chief Privacy Officer at the CMPA. “Our data uniquely position us to identify the medico-legal trends of physicians across the country.”
CMPA research is published in peer-reviewed medical and science journals, and informs collaborative research initiatives.
Review the complete published analysis available on CMAJ Open.
For more information, or to arrange an interview: [email protected]
About the CMPA
The CMPA delivers efficient, high quality physician-to-physician advice and assistance in medico-legal matters, including the provision of appropriate compensation, on behalf of our members, to patients injured by negligent medical care (fault in Québec). Our evidence-based products and services enhance patient safety, reducing unnecessary patient harm and healthcare costs.
As Canada’s largest physician organization and with the support of our over 105,000 physician members, the CMPA collaborates, advocates, and effects positive change on important healthcare and medico-legal issues. The Association is governed by an elected Council of physicians.